Ocean Dynamics

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 143–154 | Cite as

Seasonal and inter-annual variability of western subtropical mode water in the South Pacific Ocean

  • Xiao Hua Wang
  • Vihang Bhatt
  • Youn-Jong Sun
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on the 6th International Workshop on Modeling the Ocean (IWMO) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada 23-27 June 2014


The seasonal and inter-annual variability of the western subtropical mode water (hereafter STMW) in the South Pacific Ocean was examined using the Bluelink ReANalysis 2.1 (BRAN2.1) in terms of heat budget. The analysis of heat content change suggested that the seasonal cycle of surface heat flux played a dominant role in the formation of the STMW in the South Pacific Ocean. However, the surface heat flux and the East Australian Current (EAC) heat transport tended to compensate one another during STMW production. Out of phase or different amplitude of the components led to warming or cooling of the mixed layer, and the heat transport by the EAC in the formation of the STMW cannot be ignored. The correlation between volume anomalies of the STMW and net surface heat flux was insignificant, indicating that the inter-annual variability of the STMW was equally influenced by surface thermal forcing and ocean dynamic processes, such as horizontal advection. This study revealed the important role played by the EAC in the inter-annual variability of the STMW, i.e., a weakened heat transport by the EAC led to an increased volume anomaly of the STMW in the South Pacific Ocean. The STMW production can be further enhanced by La Nina, which drives positive anomaly in sea surface salinity in the western South Pacific and creates a favourable preconditioning for surface cooling in austral winter.


Subtropical mode water East Australian Current Bluelink reanalysis Seasonal variability Inter-annual variability Numerical modeling 



The authors thank UNSW@ADFA RT scholarship program for funding this research. This work was also supported by the scientific research fund of the Second Institute of Oceanography, SOA (grant JT1007). The authors benefited from the comments of the three anonymous reviewers. The editorial assistance provided by Dr. Zuojun Yu is much appreciated. This is a publication of the Sino-Australian Research Centre for Coastal Management, paper number 18.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Physical Environmental Mathematical SciencesUNSW Canberra at ADFACanberraAustralia
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Satellite Ocean Environment Dynamics, Second Institute of OceanographyState Oceanic AdministrationHangzhouPeoples Republic of China
  3. 3.Now at Institute for Coastal ResearchGeesthachtGermany

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